Apple Inc. has so far shut down three informal surveys about pay equity at the company, which were put out by employees to study whether or not the tech giant actually holds true to its claims of not being a victim (or maybe a promoter of pay inequality, especially when it comes to females, and the underrepresented communities. The reason for the same has been attributed to strict rules regarding when and how staff members can collect data from their colleagues.
Labor lawyers have since taken to calling the firm out for apparently violating worker protection guidelines, claiming that surveys can be considered to be a part of labor organization, and that under the US laws, employees have ethe right to discuss their pay, and any associated disparity.
Apple Can’t Stop Employees From Discussing Pay…But It Did
White, Hilferty & Albanese’s Vincent P. White says that Apple doesn’t have the right to stop its staff from “discussing pay equity,” especially in cases when it applies to “protected classes,” while also adding that this move can be seen as an “act of retaliation.”
Out of the three surveys, the first one began sometime in spring, when people were asked to come forward and provide information about their pay, along with their identity in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, and disability. It was axed when it reached around 100 responses, with Apple’s People Team citing personally identifying information in the demographic questions.
Just last week, another similar pay equity survey came into being, but it too, was taken down because it quizzed people on their gender. This eventually resulted in a third survey, this time without any question pertaining to one’s gender, but the People Team alleged that since it was hosted on the firm’s corporate Box account, it needed to be taken down.
Prohibited Surveys and Protected Rights
And that’s not all, since the Team also informed employees on what “prohibited surveys” means to it, saying that surveys collecting identifiable information or requesting diversity data, are not allowed without proper authorization.
White has gone on to say that this seems to him like the “2021 version” of a dock foreman from the 1800s telling people that they are not allowed to compare wages.
UC Hastings professor Veena Dubal also has something to say on the matter, as she claims that they very core of these rules has the potential of violating the “protected right to concerted activity,” since Apple doesn’t necessarily have legal grounds to prevent employees from seeking data.